Promise and the Monster

Feed the Fire

by Matt James

9 February 2016

Seriously kids, don't feed the fire. OK, but only if Promise and the Monster ask you nicely.
 
cover art

Promise and the Monster

Feed the Fire

(Bella Union)
US: 22 Jan 2016
UK: 22 Jan 2016

If Promise and the Monster’s third light Feed the Fire were a colour it’d be red. Deep red. Profondo Rosso. Not solely on account of its titular penchant for pyromania but because each of its ten seductive songs simmer and smoulder with all things rouge. Passion! Lust! Danger! Murder!?! “All the songs are… tales of violence. “I wrote about killings, being inside the killer’s head,” Monster’s ringleader Billie Lindahl recently confessed to Police. “What are we capable of? What can push us over the edge?” Gulp! Send. More. Cops.

Feed the Fire was apparently recorded in Lindahl’s hometown of Stockholm in a swanky studio called Labyrint with fellow firestarter Love “Love” Martinsen, but it sounds like the product of something more mysterious. Possibly Wiccan wizardry unleashed in the woods somewhere between a devil’s bonfire and a witches’ bubbling cauldron. You can imagine blessed copies of Goldfrapp’s Seventh Tree and Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love being sacrificed alongside eye of newt and Bat for Lashes’ splashes. “Just let the ashes fly!” signals a breathless Lindahl on the opening title track. Angel hair brushed drums! A juicy lick of analogue synths! A rustic rush of acoustics! A feverish swirl of cinematic strings! Three minutes in and we’ve already naked, caked in warpaint and dancing around the flames. “I’m already too involved / I’m forced into the core!” It’s so steamy already that somewhere animals strike curious poses ‘cos even they feel the heat.

..and the heat goes on. A ravenous “Hunter” swiftly chases us through the forest with an Erhu. Luckily it’s a Chinese violin not a Medieval torture instrument. There’s stomping King Kong percussion, velvety John Barry theatrics and a siren swell of heaving bosoms. “Take me in your arms!” it demands. “Time of the Season” (No, not the Zombies’ one) was created to conjure up a “Goth ABBA” and, thus, is an absolute blast. Stir in a cool-as-fuck, canyon-sized, rockabilly axe riff and Lindahl coolly leading the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, “It is time to meet… you”. It’s hard not to be swept into the hoopla. “Apartments Song” equally sparks the senses. Flirty folk with a futurist throb it sizzles with the bad intentions of carnivorous lunar activities. “You know we have time to kill”, it beguiles, “the tigers are looking at us.” Basically, it feels filthy.

Feed the Fire is no blushing wallflower. It’s out there, getting its freak on and fighting fire with, well, more fire. The Lycanthrope loopy “Slow and Quiet” stretches out like a werewolf in full-on “Shapeshifter Mode”. Instruments tumble and smash like waves against the rocks as Lindahl howls with blood on her teeth, “Let them run this time they cannot hide! / Aaahaa aaaaah!” Elsewhere, the unnervingly tranquillised “Julingvallen” features soothingly pretty humming and what could be either a birth or a death. Sunrise or sunset. Ambient souls swirl around the body whilst a UFO lands in the distance. Terrifying yet transcendental. Falling further into the night we pass “Hammering the Nails” wandering amid inescapable curses, “This taste of blood in metal must go with the tide.” Sad and abandoned inside the fog, “Save me,” it cries before sliding from view. 

The dying embers of Feed the Fire certainly reveal a darker heart. The moody but unremarkable “Weight of It All” broods with a maudlin sense of déjà vu before “Machines” and “Fine Horseman” kiss farewell with more melodramatic passion. “Machines” floors the pedal like a ‘60s splatter platter late for an important business meeting with the Grim Reaper. Girl group sweets, bubblegum ‘n’ fast cars, one bad moon rising and no future for you. A dazed, dead-eyed, trance-dance waltz into the grave with only a passing Mariachi band to send down the last rose. “He shakes my hand,” it sobs. Oh fragrant carnage! The genuinely unsettling cover of “Horseman” makes for a Creepshow finale too. Trapped in a nightmare, a disembodied voice calling from the other side, closer and closer, “My heart is in the ground…. I dreamed you.” You can feel it licking its lips, “Fine, fine horseman.” The tinkering toybox twinkle after the dying breath only underlines its pant-wetting powers. 

Don’t be fooled by the fact that Promise and the Monster take their name from a kid’s book by the creator of Princess Smartypants, Feed the Fire will induce night sweats. It’s sultry, strange, sinister and admirably lost in its own dark dreams. Certainly there are moments where you wish it’d venture down different paths—it’s Lindahl’s “Killer” record although Promise’s true killer is perhaps yet to come—but mostly it just feels good to watch this ruby red, Monster world burn.

Feed the Fire

Rating:

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